martin swan

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Everything posted by martin swan

  1. EH Roths (workshop violins) are a mixed bag to say the least - some sound heavenly and would play a good game against a Strad, others are best backed over in a Hummer. Build quality is also very variable. Buyers will pay a lot for a Roth with a serial number and an intact label (the company's assiduous definition of "models" and their numbering of instruments seems to appeal particularly to Americans), and a good Strad pattern (not 1700) is always very popular, but their workshop instruments bearing other labels are far less easy to sell. The 1920s are the golden age for Roths, but I don't think this applies to anything other than work by the man himself. 1920s workshop instruments are to my mind no better or worse than 1930s or 1960s. In the 1930s things went pretty wierd, with violins being made in different places, quite a few genuine instruments made without brands etc .... others made by sub-contractors but often extremely good. All of this is probably reflected in the very variable estimates Skinners give for their offerings ... there are a couple of the violins I would be interested in, not telling which, though the viola looks good! Martin Swan Violins
  2. Or maybe not ... I, for my part, went and got a piece of .5mm spruce and tried to bend it along the grain - to my surprise it broke very easily, so I will henceforth be using the Jeffrey Holmes pyramid shape!
  3. !! a fair cop ..... I will shut up now
  4. These problems of recording are vastly exaggerated by monaural recording and cardioid (directional) mikes! A true stereo recording can be quite close to an instrument and yet record the room in its totality, not just the sound source. Floating field omni-directional mikes are also good, but are still monochromatic compared to true stereo. I don't think any of this is important for spectrum analysis, for which a decent quality cardioid mike in a neutral room should be fine .... but by that point we're not talking about how well a violin plays or sounds, more about its objective tonal attributes.
  5. OK, read through some of the old threads - Jeffrey I have come across a lot of detailed and very valuable stuff posted by you. Should have thought to search before sticking that old broken record on the turntable! I think the neat little pyramid (cut down after fitting) is the trick for me, but I also agree that if the crack is tidily repaired the cleat may well be "belt & braces". I suspect that a lot of cleats are there because the restorer spent so bloody long repairing the crack (invisibly), they want something to show for their efforts!
  6. Yes I have wondered about this too ... if the crack is well repaired and sits perfectly, why does it need cleats? A shock which would stress the cleats would surely be just as likely to create another crack. If the cleat is across the grain and serious expansion/contraction occurs, it's going to prevent proper movement or fall off one side of the crack. If it's with the grain then it's not adding any significant strength to the repaired crack unless it's almost as thick as the table. Should we revisit the whole idea of cleats ...? I use linen on ribs for cracks and patches, not sure why I don't use it on the table!
  7. Sorry, there's obviously something wrong with my "TONE" - or is it because there are other rather confrontational threads going on? I'm not contradicting anyone - I'm asking for advice. I was asking David for a specific guideline - I accept the hinge concept, but I want to ask what would be too thin (hinge) and what would be OK (support). I feel that it can't take much wood to prevent the crack from opening up due to normal shrinkage (assuming the glue's solid) because there's no long grain shrinkage in the cleat and the fibres are very strong. However I can see that if the top tries to buckle for some reason, then a paper-thin cleat isn't going to provide any resistance. I would just like to know how thin I can go! Matthew's cleats (general purpose I assumed) looked pretty meaty to my eyes ....
  8. I was specifically asking for advice on cleats to support tidy cracks in the table, (and not in areas which are dangerous structurally). Most of what I see seems far too heavy for the job, and I'd welcome people's twopence ha'porth on this particular issue. I have a good violin right now with 2 longish but neat cracks in the lower belly - the sound is beautiful and delicate and I don't want to ruin it! David, at what point does the hinge turn into a support? I would really appreciate a nominal thickness (as it were!) CT - I can't see how any support can be derived from a cleat that runs in the same orientation as the table grain, unless it's a couple of ml thick ....... I understand the problem of differential shrinkage, and was wondering about a diagonal approach!
  9. When it comes to both recording and monitoring, the distance of the mic capsule or the speaker from the ear is irrelevant without a consideration of the size, reflectiveness, and tonal characteristics of the room ..... If there's no reflection, the sound will never get more "distant", just quieter ....
  10. To return to the matter in hand .... I can't really see the need for anything more than a sliver of good spruce glued tightly across the grain - the long-grain strength of these fibres is immense, and I would have thought any additional mass (like Matthew's domes) is un-necessary structurally, and would dampen the vibrations of the table. It's good to have a bit more wood to hold onto when shaping the glueing surface of the cleat, but I've been chiselling off most of this bulk once it's in place until I have something like the thickness of a couple of playing cards. I also try to keep the cleats short, though I think the parallelogram is a good concept and I'll adopt it. Am I worrying unduly about the acoustic effects?
  11. Thanks to both of you - I agree that national definitions are dodgy! I think I'd refer to something made in what's now Slovakia as "Bohemian", current boundaries of Austria as "Austrian", present-day Romania would be "Hungarian" as all the violin-making of note pre-Gliga happened in what was then Hungary (Romania acquired a large part of Hungary post WW2). With this violin I would feel safest to follow Michael's advice and say Budapest or Budapest School - I think the date may be pre 1900, s I have a feeling the violin has been tarted up, maybe given a coat or two of clear after the f-hole repairs - looks newer than it is. I haven't actually seen this violin in the flesh - it seems to have a very good sound, and I have to say i like the look of it a lot, though the scroll is a bit of a disappointment.
  12. A friend has sent me images of a violin he owns - it used to belong to a good orchestral musician in Romania. Does anyone have any ideas?
  13. it's true - this is an unusually s--- violin If I saw this kind of violin every day I would kill myself
  14. On this particular topic (and many others) I think Lyndon has a legitimate view. He is something of a purist, and thinks that violins are above all tools for making music - which means they should be made with that end in mind. Does that make him a snob, or just someone who holds himself and others to an ideal? I don't think that the majority of Chinese workshops (genuine or spurious) put sound at the top of their list. Their aspirations are more to do with looks (particularly in photos) and cost-effectiveness. Cheapness and good sound are incompatible goals.
  15. Very interested to hear more on this subject .... are you talking about good cleats, cleats in general, or brontosaurus-sized dods of wood? I've seen a lot of parchment used on good fiddles, doesn't seem to do much and is often hanging off. Also seen tiny and beautifully round drops of glue used as cleats. Does anyone have any strong opinions on cleats for table cracks? I assume it's good to keep size and mass to a minimum, and to get a perfect fit, but is there anything else?
  16. Cheaper Carcassi! and yet still not quite a bargain ......
  17. I agree with Jacob, and although Brad's theory was an elegant explanation of why Americans thought the violin was American, I thought it all looked German (or Viennese if I were capable of recognizing a Viennese violin), and that the back maple looked more like the Molitor than anything else! Since Michael Darnton has dismissed the notion that the wood must be American, then I would say that's the matter settled. I think it's great that you went after this violin - I had the same experience with a violin in an Edinburgh shop, kept coming back to it, got sad when it went out on trial, and lost it for a while to someone else. But it popped up a couple of years later and I bought it ... it was impossible to identify, no-one even knew what country it came from ("Spanish", "Scottish", "Mittenwald" to name a few). It had the strangest quality of sound, not particularly powerful, quite mellow, but it was audible in any situation, and every violin you played after it sounded cheap and nasty. Of course now that I'm a dealer I'm not so sentimental, and I sold it a couple of years ago ....! A really good player came to the house and played everything but still wasn't satisfied - in desperation I let him play that violin and he loved it straight away. I hear him playing from time to time now and I keep trying to buy it back off him!
  18. I have regularly reported shill bidding, but with private bidder id.s it's impossible to prove - only Ebay is in a position to investigate, and since it drives the price up and gives Ebay a better fee, they don't do it! Like Lyndon I am very disenchanted with Ebay/paypal. Their income could probably shore up the Greek economy, yet they are using all the nasty tricks of the virtual world, and passively encouraging all sorts of criminal activity. As for these violins, they're what we call "a polished turd" in other words a cheap violin tarted up to go out on a Saturday night. Not much point in them if they don't look nice and sparkly, and the one which went for $251 was distressed and in need of repair - not the sort of thing someone's going to buy their partner as an anniversary present! Eboy's violin also had a sound clip, which people find reassuring for some reason which escapes me. In my book sound clips are evidence of dodgy dealing, but then I've spent a lot of my life recording instruments and making them sound a lot better than they do!
  19. It's pretty well documented that wood used by Cremonese makers (including Stradivari) was transported downstream in fresh water, then often stored in brackish water. Croatian oak for the building of Venice was towed across the Med, I guess Bosnian maple too .... Not sure about maple, but the drying time of softwoods is greatly accelerated by storage in water - the water seems to force out the sap, meaning that the air-drying process is much quicker. Presumably has quite an effect on the structure too, and not just the proliferation of "hollowing-out" bacteria which some think is the "secret of Stradivari". Never heard of seasoning in ash, would love to know more.
  20. Evening all, what's going on 'ere then? (Z Cars theme plays in the background .........)
  21. I have almost zero knowledge of American violin making pre 1900 or so, but I would cast a heavy vote in favour of Austria or Bohemia. The scroll carving seems quite unlike any American violin I've seen, quintessentially Germanic (Jacob please forgive the loose terminology). The corners and edges are also entirely consistent with early 19th century German work (not so familiar with Austrian makers) although I accept that it may also be typical of American north-east makers. The slightly quilted maple does look American but it's by no means unusual for a nicer South German or even Italian instrument. I like Brad Dorsey's theory but the table just looks German to me. On the other hand the neck has been modified in two senses, with a button shim and a fingerboard shim - that adds weight to the notion that the violin is a composite. Just not sure which bits belong with which .... Scratched dates and initials are generally a schoolboy's work, and in this case I'd be happy to agree that the violin was made before 1871. Alicia, I'd be interested to know why you pursued this violin so enthusiastically - was it the sound or the feel of it? Martin Swan Violins
  22. Jacob - I've never seen a "faithful" JTL label in a Chinese violin, so I have to assume the seller knocked it up and gummed it in - I also assume the photo of the label is cropped so we can't see the brand new maple on the inside back!
  23. great label Addie! but I live in Peebles .......
  24. Yes I could accept that the scroll is also Chinese - I was put off by the asymmetry in the carving (which I don't associate with Chinese violins of this sort) but maybe that's also deliberate.
  25. I think the neck only ...... body is Chinese or I'm a Dutchman (no offense to the Dutch)